find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
High Court dissent is down

High Court dissent is down

The retirement of “great dissenter” Justice Dyson Heydon early last year has resulted in a decline in disagreements between High Court judges.

Legal academics Dr Andrew Lynch and Professor George Williams from the University of New South Wales analysed all 55 High Court decisions decided by five to seven members of the Bench last year.

The study found that the rate of dissent has dropped dramatically since Justice Heydon and Justice William Gummow retired from the Bench in 2013 and 2012 respectively, to be replaced by Justice Stephen Gageler and Justice Patrick Keane.

Even so, one of the new judges has taken the title of the High Court judge most likely to disagree with his colleagues. Justice Gageler claimed the highest rate of dissent (14%) in 2013 across all matters. This does not, however, compare to Justice Heydon’s rate of dissent, which peaked at 40 per cent in his final two years in the High Court.

Just two extra dissents separated Justice Gageler from Justice Kenneth Hayne (10%) and Justice Virginia Bell (8.7%).

Overall, the High Court achieved unanimous judgements in 21 out of 55 cases (38%), more than double 2012's figure of 13 per cent.

Under the stewardship of Chief Justice French, the High Court recorded unusually high levels of agreement and unanimity among members of the Bench in 2009 and 2010. This consensus broke down in 2011 and 2012, due especially to the approach of Justice Heydon, the study found.

“Significant differences certainly remain between members of the current High Court, both as to their views on the law and their judicial method. However, in 2013 this did not often manifest as differences in determinations. Hence, last year saw a high level of unanimity, along with a low rate of dissent by all members of the Court,” Lynch and Williams wrote.

They added that it was too early to discern any noticeable trends in the decision-making of the two newest Justices.

The study also found that there was just one unanimous opinion in constitutional law cases, an area where agreement is notoriously rare.

The findings of the study, The High Court on Constitutional Law: 2013 Statistics, will be presented at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law’s annual Constitutional Law Conference in Sydney today (14 February). The Conference will be followed by dinner at NSW Parliament House hosted by Attorney-General Greg Smith, with guest speaker Federal Attorney-General George Brandis.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

High Court dissent is down
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Applauds
07:00
LCA applauds proposed Modern Slavery Act
The Law Council of Australia has welcomed new recommendations for the development of a Modern Slaver...
Mentoring
07:00
Top-tier offers targeted mentoring for Indigenous law students
Students at Macquarie University will be the first to benefit from a new Indigenous mentoring progra...
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...